Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog

By Gayle M. Irwin. Cladach Publishing. $14.99.

Imagine for a minute adopting a dog and then hearing these words from your veterinarian a short time later, “I have bad news for you. Your dog is going blind.”

It’s impossible to fathom the challenges awaiting you in the years ahead or whether you even want to endure them. A lesser couple might not, but Irwin and her husband Greg chose to do so with Sage, an English springer spaniel, and detail how this special animal taught them many life lessons in the process.

“Walking in Trust” is not simply a dog book. It’s an inspiring read with continual references to the scripture and how it impacts the author’s life. Consequently, it is one of those volumes you can read and digest a chapter daily, since each is titled with a singular quality of life; for example, Courage, Patience, Humility, Wisdom, Loyalty, Faithfulness, etc. Each opens with an incident involving Sage and segues into an appropriate faith-filled reference.

In the Introduction, Irwin establishes, “Sage was both a teacher and a pupil. She and I learned from each other. At times, however, I believe I learned more from Sage than she did from me: lessons about trust, courage, loyalty, contentment and perseverance.”

While the 45-pound, black-and-white dog walks in darkness most of her life, she sheds light on life’s important priorities for the Wyoming couple. Sage seems to have a special sense for those in need along with a sense of presence and “living for the moment,” Irwin establishes, along with comprehending a person’s anxiety or loneliness.

Sage is not only an inspiration to her owners but hundreds of children in schools and libraries she visits, providing hands-on therapy for all who touch her.

The author recognizes that she needs guidance in her own life, but to accept that assistance requires humility. That same trait prevails in pets, especially those with special needs, says Irwin. “Receiving help is often easier for animals to accept than for people.”

Sage loses another key sense – hearing – later in life but this doesn’t stop her, either, although it intensifies her reliance on her dedicated owners. But it is cancer that eventually takes her life, months after it most likely began ravaging her body unbeknownst to her owners.

In the Afterword, Irwin explains, “I often imagined Sage to be an angel in disguise.” Aptly named, sage means one who advises.

“Walking in Trust” is an exhilarating celebration of life, accented with spirited storytelling designed to nourish the soul and empower the heart.